A few months ago, I gave up on my coffee machine. I was sick of the dull, bland and at times very bitter coffee that it produced. I stopped making coffee at home and took up a rather expensive quest of trying to find a really good, consistent coffee shop that was convenient to my work and home life. There were some good cups of coffee out there, yes, but I felt guilty about the money I was spending and never wanted to go fetch my coffee on the weekends. There had to be a better way! Enter the French Press.
For those of you who don’t know, a French Press is a simple brewing device, where coarse grinds are stirred into hot water, left alone for a few minutes, and then “pressed” just before serving. The direct contact of the beans with the water (instead of brewed through a filter) produces coffee that includes more of the beans’ essential oils and features a deeper flavor. With my new tool, I was ready for some quality coffee in the morning. Now I just needed some quality beans!
Throughout this process, I learned that you can have the fanciest coffee maker in the world and still make really horrible coffee. It’s about the beans, my friends! Quality is important: how they were grown and how they are stored play a huge role in how they taste. But perhaps most important is the freshness factor. Green, unroasted coffee beans are stable, and therefore lose freshness very slowly. Once they are roasted though, the beans should be consumed within about a month, preferably sooner. The beans also lose freshness as soon as they are ground, so those bags of pre-ground coffee beans are already putting you at a deficit when it comes to making really good coffee.
In my search for freshly roasted coffee, it turns out I didn’t have to look very far at all. Flat Black Coffee Company, a small company based here in Boston, roasts their beans in house at their flagship store in Lower Mills. I already knew about Flat Black Coffee, but it was their reputation as a community based coffee shop that first struck my attention. With three retail outposts in Boston, their Lower Mills shop, in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, and their location on Broad Street in downtown Boston, this small Boston company has made a real effort to become a part of their neighborhoods.
In addition, the company, whose name refers to the Australian slang word for espresso, makes a real effort to buy the most fairly traded coffee possible. Flat Black employees travel to estates in far off places like Panama and El Salvador to get to know the owners and farmers. They like to buy direct from these estates, ensuring that they have the best quality beans and that the money goes straight to those doing the growing.
While it can be tough to buy local coffee here in the Northeast (since coffee beans cannot be grown outside of tropical climates and this region is decidedly un-tropical), you can buy locally-roasted beans. If you live in the Boston area, try Flat Black Coffee, a great small company that sells an outstanding product, with a focus on quality, source and the social and environmental impact of their industry. The best part? These beans make a really spectacular cup of coffee. And that’s the whole point, right?
I would guess that many Eat Boutique readers have an opinion about their coffee. What is your preferred way to make home-brewed coffee? Do you have a favorite type of beans? A specific roast or source that you always buy? Share with us below!
For more tips about using a French Press, check out this post at The Kitchn. The comments are full of great information.